FDA Approves 'Berlin Heart' For Child Heart Patients

Device Prolongs Life For Transplant Patients

Children with heart failures who need a transplant have new hope with a medical breakthrough recently approved by the Food and Drug Administration.

In the past, many patients died waiting on heart transplants because doctors didn’t have a way to keep them alive until they found a match.

But now that FDA officials have approved the Berlin Heart, a mechanical device already being used in Europe, doctors have a way to keep patients’ hearts pumping while they wait on a transplant, RTV6's Stacia Matthews reported.

In 2005, Bailey Hunsberger was 15-years-old and needed a heart transplant, but couldn’t find a match. When doctors gained special permission from the FDA to use the Berlin Heart, she became the third child in at Riley Hospital For Children to be implanted with the device.

"It kept me alive and without it, I wouldn't have survived," Hunsberger said.

For more than six months, the device restored normal blood flow and actually healed Hunsberger's damaged heart and she no longer needed a transplant.

"It gave me a chance to wait, and now everyone else will have a chance," she said.

Hunsberger's surgeon, Dr. Mark Turrentine said the Berlin Heart has given pediatric heart patients a second chance.

"The period of waiting is so important and if you have a longer wait time, you have a better chance at getting a good match. Not just one that works, but maybe one that's perfect," Hunsberger said.

Hunsberger is now 19, and healthy.

“I’m stable. I’m doing really, really well,” she said.

Hunsberger, a sophomore biology major at Indiana University, has her heart set on a career in forensic science.

To date, doctors at Riley Hospital for Children at Indiana University Health have implanted nine Berlin Heart devices. The hospital has also established a protocol for other medical centers to use the machine.

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